Autism still puzzles, while research works to unravel

March 15, 2012 • Galilea Godoy, Staff Writer  
Filed under Features

Autism spectrum disorder or autism refers to a group of complicated disorders that interfere with the development of the brain. Autism has been known to affect the brain in the early stages of development. Signs of ASD start to appear typically within two and three years of age, in accordance to autismspeaks.org (Autism Speaks is dedicated to help people with autism). There are different levels in severity when it comes to Autism. Answers as to what causes autistic spectrum disorders are not clear but there are many speculations. Autism cannot be cured but there are different treatments and organizations dedicated to help people with autism.

There are different disorders that the terms “autism” and “autism spectrum disorder” refer to. These disorders are organized in different degrees. How they affect the individual depends on whether they have difficulties with social interaction, in nonverbal and verbal communication and repetitive behaviors categorizes their severity. ASD is also associated with physical problems

Autistic disorder is one of these illnesses. This refers to the individual having difficulties in communicating. Another symptom is that people with this disorder cannot fully read the feeling of others, so they cannot tell if someone is mad or offended. Children showing symptoms also tend to refrain from “pretend play”. Also, pointing to direct people into the direction of the object that they are speaking of is something they tend to stay away from. Before, this disorder was not seen as often but ultimately the numbers have been going up. This leaves researches wondering if the numbers of people being affected are increasing because this is becoming a more frequent illness or if it is just that awareness is being spread. There are several other disorders related to autism:

  • Rett syndrome tends to be more frequent amongst girls than in boys. Studies have shown that this illness comes about to be due to a defect in a gene that is found on the X chromosome. It is determined by a slowing of development. The person also loses purposeful use of hands, slowed brain, growth of head, problems with walking, seizures and intellectual disabilities.
  • Asperger syndrome is another affliction in the Autism Spectrum Disorder group. The cause in the development of Asperger Syndrome is unknown.  Asperger syndrome is categorized by the following symptoms: difficulty with social interaction, repeated behaviors, and often, clumsiness.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified relates to people who do not fully meet the criteria for Asperger syndrome.
  • Disintegrative disorder which is also called Heller’s syndrome is known to cause severe loss of social communication skills. Children develop normally from ages 2 to 4 years of age but then start showing failure of social and communication skills.

The consideration of where and how ASD comes to be stretches to a wide range. Some believe it can be caused by vaccinations which in an article written by Harriet Hall, MD, “The SkepDoc” that argument was dismissed. Others have the belief that diet can contribute to the development of ASD. Mercury poisoning, digestive tract changes, diet and the body’s incapability to accurately use vitamins and minerals is among the contemplations to the basis of these disorders as well.

For some of these disorders, the question of “how does it develop?” has not been answered yet and for some the answer is associated with the mutation of genes. These disorders do not have a cure. But, groups such as autsimspeaks.org and autsim-society.org help people learn how to deal with autism spectrum disorder.

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